Last Sunday, I had the privilege of attending the Southern California BaseballHQ's First Pitch Fantasy Baseball Forum, led by Ron Shandler. Ironic, I know, since I don't play fantasy baseball (I objectively think I'm too attached to the A's, and would draft accordingly, leaving me with...well...the A's, and as some of you know, that has not been a good fantasy choice in recent years), but the experience is one-of-a-kind.
I went to the event last year, and it was great. Ron Shandler wasn't able to make the trip last year, but he presented at this year's event, as did Jeff Erickson (Rotowire/Blog Talk Radio, huge Reds fan), Todd Zola (Masterball.com), Nick Minnix (KFFL), and Jock Thompson (Baseball HQ, huge Angels fan).
Fantasy Baseball has not changed in the male-dominant department in the span of a year; I was one of three women at the forum, and the recipient of "Hey, that's a chick!". Love that.
There was great information shared at the forum this year, especially if you want to know the very latest for your fantasy drafts, but I'm sharing a couple of tidbits about the A's because I think it's important to note how these fantasy projections could translate into the season.
Kudos to the panel for a few calls last season, especially those who thought that Rich Harden would pitch at least 60 innings; 10 starts, if not more. Understandably, I was skeptical at this prediction, but obviously Harden well exceeded these numbers. Unfortunately, they weren't all in an A's uniform.
Last season, the panel (and most of AN) all thought that Travis Buck would see an increase in playing time, but he was a) terrible and b) injured. However, his name has been surfacing as somewhat of a wild card; I would say that this prediction is one to make this year as well.
Obviously the biggest name of the A's off-season, Holliday has left Coors Field to play in the cavernous Coliseum. Although Holliday's numbers have been outstanding, there are concerns about his transition from the NL to the AL, the Coliseum's effect on right-handed power-hitting, and the lack of a running game in the Oakland franchise. It is unlikely that Holliday will steal even half as many bases as last season.
Last year, there was a brief mention of Justin Duchscherer:
"Jeff [Erickson] is also is high on Justin Duchscherer as a starter, and feels that barring injury, he could be a legitimate threat in the new role."
That turned out to be a great call. Sadly, Duchscherer was listed this year under "Pitchers you don't want to own at the price they will probably cost" mostly due to his injury history, heavy workload, and stellar season last year.He will be great when he pitches, but he's not doing a lot to shake off the 'injured' label with the recent stories coming out of camp, and you either have to draft him early, or pay for his 2008, which will be hard to repeat.
Obviously somewhat tainted by the recent injury news, Ellis was picked in the "Undervalued Vets Over 30 category"; i.e. you might get him for a great price, and he could be worth it. I hope Mark is back and healthy for the team...and for his new double-play partner!
Cahill was mentioned in the category of minor leaguers who may make an appearance to help your team in 2009, and I would say that holds true for the real season as well. I'd be surprised if Cahill isn't at the big league level at some point during the season.
There was a brief debate about the A's center field options, but Ryan Sweeney is probably not going to have an effect on fantasy baseball, and Rajai Davis probably won't see the playing time to help a team, either.
Any arguments with the above? Comments on your own fantasy draft this year? What A's player do you want on your team? Who's going to win the AN League?
Open game thread will be posted before the 12:00 game.